Coaches and members of the OSU mock trial team pose for a photo at their 2013-14 year-end banquet. Credit: Courtesy of Jessie Sun

Coaches and members of the OSU mock trial team pose for a photo at their 2013-14 year-end banquet.
Credit: Courtesy of Jessie Sun

There’s no debate that the Ohio State mock trial team is excited after receiving a favorable verdict for a request for funding.

The political science department has given the team $15,000 following a successful 2013-14 season that took the mock trial team to nationals in Orlando, Fla.

Michael Morris, the vice president of OSU Mock Trial and a third-year in political science and economics, said the exposure from nationals was one of the things that helped the team receive the funding. He said the team placed in the top seven percentile out of roughly 600 teams.

“The organization hadn’t made it to nationals in several years, and last year was only the second time that OSU has ever competed in its history,” Morris said.

The mock trial team’s relationship with the political science department began last spring when the team asked the department for funding to travel to Orlando, Morris said. The group received about $5,000, and after doing well at nationals, Morris said he went back to the department for more money.

“I was the one who helped craft and develop the budget and I’m also the one who met with the political science department to determine how much money they were willing to give us,” he said. “I met with professor Richard Herrmann, who was very kind and generous, and we talked about our relationship going forward, and he agreed to help us with a significant amount of our budget this year.”

Herrmann, a professor and department chair in the political science department and coordinator of the funding, said he was happy to be able to offer support to the team.

“The first thing on my mind is the student experience. I really want to use the money we’ve got to enhance the student experience, and at OSU, that’s what we’re all about,” Herrmann said.

Phil Seper, a second-year in Chinese, said he manages the mock trial team’s budget as this year’s treasurer and is excited to be able to keep his promises to the team.

“I made a promise in my (election) speech that we were going to be fully funded and that we wouldn’t have to pay for any trips, and luckily that ended up happening,” he said.

Jessie Sun, the mock trial club president and a fourth-year in psychology, said the group plans to spend the money on traveling to compete.

Because of the team’s success at nationals, the mock trial team has been invited to tournaments at institutions such as the University of Chicago, Georgetown University and University of California-Berkeley, Seper said.

He said he is enthusiastic because this new amount of funding allows for peace of mind for the team’s approximately 30 members.

“This money that we’ve gotten has been the stepping stone for mock trial to become a nationally-competitive organization,” Seper said.

Herrmann said he felt proud to be involved with furthering student activity in competitions for academics, essentially helping to prepare national champions of the mind the way someone would for an OSU sports team.

“I really want Ohio State students who are academically inclined to be competing at the same national level that anyone would expect football or basketball teams to be at,” he said.

Morris said the total budget for the team this year is approximately $20,000. In addition to the funding from the political science department, the team will be bridging the gap with fundraisers and a tournament they host in Columbus in October. The tournament is expected to raise roughly $3,000 from entry fees, Morris said.

Last year, the team operated on roughly the same budget, he said.

With money concerns more at bay this year, both Seper and Morris said they are more confident to take on the coming season.

“It’s hard for me to envision how bright the future is for mock trial at this point, because of this money,” Seper said.

The mock trial team will hold tryouts this weekend, Sun said, and will start practicing soon for the competitive season that starts in February.